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ITV Player and 4oD on PS3 review: First look

UPDATE: Turns out that 4oD actually only offers the last fortnight’s shows on catch up through the PS3, but all teh archive goodies will be available by the start of 2011.

We heard on Monday that ITV Player and 4oD would be coming to the Sony PS3 this week, and would you look at what just turned up in our XMB. We took both services for a spin: find out how they stack up against all the console’s other video streaming services here in our review: first look.

PS3 owners have had BBC iPlayer on tap for years through their consoles, but it’s only just this week that rival broadcasters have rolled out their own on demand service, ITV Player and 4oD on it – or any set top box that doesn’t simply play desktop Flash video (Like the Boxee Box). It’s commendable that Sony has been the one to pull this off, while Nintendo sits on it thumbs and Microsoft insists on charging for everything, but we do find it baffling that it took ITV and Channel 4 so long to come round to this.

The first thing you should know is that both of these services, like iPlayer, aren’t native apps. They’re shortcuts to customised web pages in the browser (You can see for yourself what 4oD looks like here http://ps3.channel4.com/), and before you ask, no, they sadly don’t work in the Wii’s browser, we checked. The lack of a native app isn’t necessarily something to bemoan: Mubi‘s PS3 app was rather slow, but these are as quick as your internet connection will allow.

Content appears to be exactly the same as on both desktop equivalents (Although with ITV, you’re asked for your postcode to serve up regional news if that’s what you’re into), but getting to them requires different approaches. With a lack of standards, BBC iPlayer, 4oD and ITV Player all have slightly different UIs, and because you’re using a gamepad rather than a mouse, it’s much more noticeable. ITV’s is definitely more attractive, and makes more sense than 4oD’s curious Alphabet grid, in which to search by letter you must click a row of letters, then the individual letter.

As for the streaming itself, it’s just as you’d expect: muddy and standard definition. This isn’t a fault of the PS3 to be fair, since neither offers HD options on the desktop anyway, but if we had to guess, we’d say image quality was slightly inferior than the BBC iPlayer streams we tested. As you’d expect, ads pop up in just the same way they do on ITV Player and 4oD in your browser.

Unfortunately, this website approach still has some bugs, especially on the 4oD site. As with BBC iPlayer, you can’t quite use the PS3 Blu-ray remote all the way through the process: particularly on the shows which require ticking adult consent (Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights), you’ll need a gamepad to drag the cursor across precisely to play. We also bizarrely “ran out of memory” while navigating 4oD’s site, an error message we’ve never seen on our PS3 before.

Is this what we’d hope for from our consoles and set top boxes in 2010? Not really: they’re perfectly capable of streaming in HD on demand if content providers could be bothered to figure it out. And Virgin Media’s on demand service is still superior, both for image quality and navigation.

But hey, that’s another subscription, we’ve just moved, and this latest addition has convinced us that suddenly, that Freeview HD recorder isn’t quite so necessary after all. We doubt we’re alone in this, and in the run up to Christmas, it’s certainly a strong reason to justify the higher price of the PS3 over the Xbox 360.

Now, if only there was something better to watch on ITV than Corrie.

  • ABC

    “they’re perfectly capable of streaming in HD on demand if content providers could be bothered to figure it out.”
    You do realise this might be a cost issue, streaming HD costs x3 as much as SD.

  • http://twitter.com/st0rmbr1nger MarkG

    iPlayer has HD on PS3 for content available in HD. You do know that right?

    • Sully1311

      no it doesnt

      • bensillis

        Hi Mark, Sully's right, it doesn't. It has a menu UI that's been adapted for HD TV resolutions, and confusingly lists content that was shown on the BBC HD channel. But it's not HD, not yet, and when it is, you can bet the BBC will be crowing about it.

  • Joey R Pierce

    4od is missing a heap of shows from what there online content on pc plays

    • bensillis

      Oh really? Thanks Joey, we'll take a peep.

    • Supajewlz

      I know i wanted to watch the event but its not their, maybe it just takes time for them to move it all over.

  • http://twitter.com/neildeadman Neil Deadman

    this also works on Google TV in the UK and looks rather nice too! (yes I have access to one!) :D

    • bensillis

      Result! Did you import?

  • Dave

    Do you know the direct link to the itvplayer page

  • johnnyenglish

    Can't get 4OD to work properly on the PS3 using either the gamepad or remote, so have annoyingly given up. Don't they test these things before they go live?

    • Supajewlz

      Part of the test is going live and their are some issues which only arise after becoming live.

  • Jennifer_cook

    the shows on the players are shit no good shows all the crappy ones apart from misfits an theres only like 5 shows on each player unlike bbc were every ting in on der

  • paddyirishman05

    My PS3 system does not have either of these streaming media providers coming up on my TV tab on the PS3. I live in Ireland and only have RTE Player available (which I have to say works fine).
    I can still access ITV and 4oD via the internet browser, typing in the address, although the page is either zoomed too far out or too far in lol. Plus, its more hassle accessing it that way.
    Is there any way I can get these apps added to my TV tab??

    • bensillis

      Other than going to the URL, afraid not as it's region specific. If you use a gamepad and the zoom buttons, can you still play the videos when you use the browser and URL?

  • Bradley-ariss

    Can some body help me on my playstation when i got on to 40d or itv player it dos not fitt in my snreen 

  • Eric

    Looks great and functions well apart from the inability to use the PS3 remote to navigate  into the parental guidance section, just boots you back to the program screen. Quite annoying. Fix this issue please.

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